EarthLabs > Climate and the Carbon Cycle: Unit Overview > Lab 4: Forests - Changes in the Land

Forests: Changes in the Land

Introduction

The image to the right is from the Whitewater-Baldy Complex wildfire in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, as it burned on June 6th, 2012. Scientists calculate that high fire years like 2012 are likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions (NASA). Wildfires are just one phenomenon that can alter the land and in doing so, can alter the carbon cycle.

Approximately 50% of a tree's weight is comprised of carbon that originated from atmospheric carbon dioxide. What happens to this carbon when a tree burns, dies from drought or insect infestation, or is cut down to make way for agriculture? In this lab, you will explore answers to these important questions:

In Part A, you will analyze the impact of wildfires and deforestation on the carbon cycle.

In Part B, you will analyze the effects of wildfire on the carbon cycle of the Northern Boreal Forests and its relationship to climate change.

After completing this investigation, you will be able to:


Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions. Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.

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